As it is diabetes awareness month I thought I would share my diagnosis story in more depth! Keep reading to learn a bit more about me and my journey so far with Type 1 diabetes.
My diagnosis story
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 5 years old, shortly after recovering from having the flu. Luckily for me, my Mum was aware of the signs of Type 1, and managed to get me tested very quickly.
There is no clear cause of Type 1 diabetes, but medical professionals definitely saw a link between me having the flu and being diagnosed shortly after recovery. The theory is that a viral infection can ‘confuse’ the immune system and cause an ‘over-reaction’ where the body’s own immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin.
I remember the day very clearly and how confused I was. Obviously as a 5 year old, I didn’t fully understand what was wrong with me, but I knew and understood that I needed insulin to start feeling better. I have always been a very active and sporty person, and as a kid I wanted to try every sport in the world! From the day of my diagnosis, I remember saying to my parents that diabetes will never stop me from doing what I love.
My main struggle after my diagnosis was the concept of injecting. I didn’t understand why I had diabetes and no one else in my family did, and it took quite a lot of support from my family and diabetic team to get me used to the fact that I had to inject.
Growing up with Type 1 diabetes
After a few months of diagnosis I definitely got used to my new lifestyle and felt generally happy and accepted by my friends. However, once I got a bit older and moved to secondary school, I ran into a variety of problems and my acceptance of diabetes changed.
In secondary school I found it a lot harder to communicate with other people about my condition, other children didn’t understand and my school didn’t do enough to support me. As a consequence, I started to hide my diabetes. I wouldn’t test or inject in front of anyone, and this meant I would never prioritise my glucose control.
This went on for around 4 years. I struggled with anxiety about my diabetes and I definitely hit a long patch of diabetic burnout. It was a long process to get out of this pattern and thinking I wasn’t enough due to my chronic condition.
But with endless support from a small group of close friends and family, I started to see my life from their point of view. I started to see that I was achieving so much, in school and in all of the sports I was doing, all while juggling a chronic condition that never stops or takes a break. And that makes me a STRONG PERSON. I realised that the problem is not me, but the stigma that surrounds diabetes.
I realised that I (and you), cannot afford to let a small minority of people (who probably don’t actually know anything about diabetes) determine how you view yourself and decide what you can and cannot achieve while living with diabetes. For those of you reading who don’t have diabetes, or don’t know much about it, diabetes does not make someone a burden.
Please take the time to learn about the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Read my blog; Confused about ‘types’ of diabetes? Here is your diabetes 101 for more information.
What I have learned from living with Type 1
Despite having many years of rejecting my diagnosis and refusing to take it seriously, I eventually realised that I am always going to have to live with Type 1. In order to be successful, I need to control my diabetes, and not let it control me.
After I finished my A-levels at school, I took a couple of years to travel, work and discover what I wanted to do. I wanted to get a degree but I couldn’t decide what degree, I just knew that it wasn’t worth rushing and getting a degree in a career I didn’t want!
During my second year after leaving school I was ranting to my Mum about ‘influencers’ on social media that always put terrible nutrition advise online, and how damaging it can be. That was the moment I decided nutrition was my career path.
So fast forward to today, I am now working towards my Naturopathic Nutrition qualification so I can help people not only living with diabetes, but people living with a variety of health conditions.
To finish off, here is a quick summary of what I have learnt about myself while living with diabetes:
- I will never let diabetes define me and it will never stop me from achieving my dreams
- I am resilient and will never quit
- I can achieve a fantastic HbA1c (currently 40 mmol/mol!)
- I listen to my body’s needs
- I am passionate about helping other people who are struggling with chronic illnesses and learning about how the body works
You too can reach similar conclusions when you prioritise your health, and by subscribing to my blog you are taking the first step. Contact me by email or on Instagram to have a chat about beginning your journey and joining a community that can support you. Thank you for reading my story so far!